Friday, February 16, 2018

They Were Single Too by David M Hoffeditz - REVEIWED


About the Book:
Singleness is not a sin that needs to be redeemed. Yet for many single Christians, the way the church regards them often feels condemning. Living between these truths can be a painful, frustrating experience.

By examining eight individuals from Scripture who were single at some point in their adult lives--Paul, Anna, Martha, Jeremiah, Ruth, Joseph, Nehemiah, and John the Baptist--Hoffeditz guides readers through common struggles singles face, such as loneliness and disappointment.

Hoffeditz isn't offering a self-help guide, a twelve-step program to recovery, or philosophical musings. They Were Single Too spells out concrete steps for a healthy, God-approved attitude toward unmarried life and how one can truly serve God without a spouse. Brief chapters with questions for reflection allow for either individual or group study.


Long used as a resource for singles ministries, this revised edition updates the language of this timeless biblical study and makes it more attractive for today's reader.

My Thoughts:
David Hoffeditz’ book, They Were Single Too, comes to me at a very different time than any other in my life.  Unlike the author, who was single when he penned the book ten years ago and is now married, I was married for 23 years and am now single.  The truths of this book apply no matter which direction you come to singleness.  Truthfully, this book has been encouraging, challenging and immensely comforting to me.  I’ve recommended it to all of my single friends!  Why?

Well, the opening words speak volumes!  “While neither marriage no singleness is permanent, we accept our present marital status as a God-given gift.” That succinctly describes the longing of my heart, to accept where God has placed me and serve Him without being distracted by wanting things to be different than they are.  The author dives deep into the lives of those who were single – Paul, Anna, Martha, Joseph, John the Baptist – and unexpected looks at Ruth, and her season of singleness and Jeremiah and Nehemiah.   I was fascinated by the truths that he unearthed in each of their lives!


Each chapter ends with thoughtful questions to consider, and, because of this, the book becomes ideal for either individual study or – better yet – a small group guide for singles!  I’m super excited to consider this for a group during the next semester of small groups at my local church!  As I’ve already said, I’ve been encouraged, challenged and comforted throughout my time between its pages! I’ve underlined and made notes and am thrilled to recommend this to anyone who finds themselves wondering what God’s intentions are for their season of singleness! 


About the Author:
David M. Hoffeditz (PhD, University of Aberdeen) has taught beginning and intermediate Greek at the collegiate level and currently serves on the pastoral staff of a church in Springfield, Ohio.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon - REVIEWED


About the Book:
After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, Father Tim Kavanagh realizes he doesn’t need a steady job to prove himself. Then he’s given one. As for what it proves, heaven only knows.

Millions of Karon fans will be thrilled that it’s life as usual in the wildly popular Mitford series: A beloved town character lands a front-page obituary, but who was it, exactly, who died? And what about the former mayor, born the year Lindbergh landed in Paris, who’s still running for office? All this, of course, is but a feather on the wind compared to Muse editor J.C. Hogan’s desperate attempts to find a cure for his marital woes. Will it be high-def TV or his pork chop marinade?

In fiction, as in real life, there are no guarantees.

Twenty minutes from Mitford at Meadowgate Farm, newlyweds Dooley and Lace Kavanagh face a crisis that devastates their bank account and impacts their family vet practice.

But there is still a lot to celebrate, as their adopted son, Jack, looks forward to the most important day of his life—with great cooking, country music, and lots of people who love him. Happily, it will also be a day when the terrible wound in Dooley’s biological family begins to heal because of a game—let’s just call it a miracle—that breaks all the rules.

In To Be Where You Are, Jan Karon weaves together the richly comic and compelling lives of two Kavanagh families, and a cast of characters that readers around the world now love like kin.

My Thoughts:
I have read every word of every Mitford book Jan Karon has ever written, and I must say To Be Where You Are carries my heart to new and spiritually challenging places - all the while being comforted by the presence of fictional friends who seem as real to me sometimes as my friends walking through life with me in flesh and blood.

I can barely believe that this dear author has celebrated her eight decade and is able to produce another beloved novel filled with all the people I've come to love.  She has allowed her characters to age right along with her, and that adds reality and depth to the story.  Father Tim and Cynthia, Louella, Avis, JC....they're all here and they all face unique challenges in this novel.

I won't share spoilers, but you will laugh and you will cry as you read about life in Mitford.  Honestly, I selfishly hope Jan Karon writes more novels still!!  She certainly left folks in positions to share some significant life experiences with all of us!  I know in my heart that this precious lady will do whatever the Lord asks her to do, so I will wait and see what happens next!

I will always be reading and rereading the Mitford novels...always.  These characters provide inspiration in so many ways as they live their lives with transparent grace!  Bless you Jan Karon! Bless you!!

About the Author:
Jan Karon is the author of the bestselling series of nine Mitford novels featuring Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest, and the fictional village of Mitford. Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Karon's Mitford books include At Home in Mitford; A Light in the Window; These High, Green Hills; Out to Canaan; A New Song; A Common Life: The Wedding Story; In This Mountain; Shepherd's Abiding; and Light from Heaven. The Father Tim Novels include "Home to Holly Springs" and last fall's release of "In the Company of Others," set in County Sligo, Ireland. There are over 40 million Mitford and Father Tim novels, childrens books, and CDs in print.



Thursday, January 25, 2018

Probing - Harbinger series by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, Alton Gansky - REVIEWED

About the Book:
As Evil Lurks Around Every Corner, This Misfit Team Must Work Together If Anyone Wants to Make It Out Alive. This is Harbingers.

The stakes are higher than ever as Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky return again to the universe of Harbingers for four more stories set in a world on the brink of destruction.

In Bill Myers's "Leviathan," the team heads to Hollywood for a taping of a new television pilot, Live or Die: The Ultimate Reality. When violence and chaos erupt, they must fight an insidious and multiplying madness before it spreads across the globe.

Frank Peretti's "The Mind Pirates" centers on an earring with mysterious powers that just might hold the key to solving a murder. When two members of the team are kidnapped by seventeenth-century pirates, the team must overcome the ruthless scheming of an evil, hidden nemesis.

In "Hybrids" from Angela Hunt, the arrival of two mysterious black-eyed children and a baby's disappearance are no coincidence. Instead of finding the rest they need, the four friends must stay on their guard as they search for answers--and for a missing child.

In "The Village" from Alton Gansky, a visit to a guarded and secretive North Carolina town becomes the most challenging mystery the team has ever faced as they must jump between universes to solve a problem they barely understand before the window between worlds closes forever.

My Thoughts:
This book is a thrill ride from first page to last!  Although the novel contains four very different stories, the "team", Tank, Brenda, Andi, Daniel and The Professor remain the epicenter around which all of the drama swirls.  Up until now, readers have never had any understanding about who is behind all of the adventures that this team of folks are tasked to deal with.  Supernatural encounters are their "normal", and many times they barely escaped with their lives.  Yet whenever they receive the call for help, they readily respond.

Well, their readiness gets stretched to its limits in this installment!  I won't dare spoil it for you, but I will tell you that all of the different dimensions/worlds this group encounters pushes the limits of a heart's ability to cope.  The team has to make some really tough choices! 

But, in the end, you gain some context that gives both the characters and the readers reason to lift your head and go forward yet again.  This is mind bending stuff, but it is so masterfully told you just can't help but soak in every single word!  I can't WAIT to see what happens next!!  What is revealed in this collection tells me that there are endless possibilities ahead for this group of writers!! I am very excited to see what they dream up next!!  AMAZING!!


About the Authors:
Bill Myers is a youth worker, creative writer, and film director who co-created the "McGee and Me!" book and video series; his work has received over forty national and international awards. His many books include Hot Topics, Tough Questions, and The Dark Side of the Supernatural.

Frank E. Peretti is one of American Christianity's best-known authors. His novels, including This Present Darkness, have sold more than 10 million copies. He makes his home in Idaho. Learn more at www.frankperetti.com.

The author of more than 100 published books and with nearly 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Timesbestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at www.angelahuntbooks.com.

Alton Gansky is the author of twenty-four novels and eight nonfiction books. He is a Carol Award winner and an Angel Award winner, and has been a Christy Award finalist. He holds a BA and an MA in biblical studies and has been awarded a Doctor of Literature degree. Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Gansky also serves as an editor and collaborative writer for top tier authors. He lives in California.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton-Smith M.D - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested-now there's a challenge.

How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In SACRED REST, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.

Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative-and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. SACRED REST combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.

By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, SACRED REST gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.

My Thoughts:

Just as the surface of the pond displays the beauty of the sky when it is undisturbed, so the soul reflects the image of God when it enters into sacred rest.”  (p. 131)

This is but one of the jillion word treasures to be mined from Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book, Sacred Rest. It’s not often I read a book that is so genuine and transparent, but as I read this book, it as though I’m being gently urged to consider the truth of every word written on the page.  I know in my heart that God has done some deep work in this lady, and she wants me to experience the same truth that God has shown her.  Folks, this is the real deal.

This book share scriptural truth with personal experience, and the conclusions drawn after each chapter are both practical and profound!  I found this book to be a treasure in my life, because if you are an active participant in all life has to offer, you often find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed and at the end of yourself.  That is what Dr. Dalton-Smith wants to help you avoid if possible, and recover from if you’ve not yet learned good self-care and firm boundaries.

I have already recommended it to the staff at my church.  Just to take time to soak in the word-smithing of this book refreshes my soul. What a gift! A treasure!  I thank God for bringing this book into my life for such a time as this!

About the Author:

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is an author, speaker, and board-certified physician. She has an active medical practice in Alabama (near the Birmingham area). She received her B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Georgia, and graduated with honors from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan teaching courses on health, nutrition, and disease progression. Dr. Dalton-Smith is a national and international media resource on the mind, body, spirit connection and has been featured in Women's Day, Redbook, and First For Women magazine. She is the author of Set Free to Live and Come Empty (winner 2016 Golden Scroll Nonfiction Book of the Year and 2016 Illumination Award Gold medalist). She is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association and a repeat keynote speaker at their annual gathering. She has shared her tips on merging faith and medicine with over 16,000 health care professionals to encourage the current and next generation of doctors to treat the whole person.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason - REVIEWED


About the Book:
A murdered partner. A missing brother. Will Isabelle's silence protect those she loves . . . or delay justice?

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. She knows they'll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.


Izzy is determined to discover exactly what happened, and her investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll--including someone from her own family. With her dead partner's brother Ryan, a handsome homicide detective, shadowing her every move, Izzy's head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she's had a secret crush on for years won't leave her side?

My Thoughts:

Eason never fails to deliver a book with a breakneck pace, and her Blue Justice installment Oath of Honor is no exception!  Eason is really effective at reminding her readers to appreciate and honor the law enforcement officers - at all levels - for their selfless sacrifice that they willingly make each day to provide public safety.  I have a couple of nephews and cousins who are law enforcement in their towns, so I can relate to Eason's respect for those upholding justice in a personal way.

I have to hope that families who have multiple members who serve never have to face the loss that the pages of this book contain.  While I know it is realistic, my heart felt a bit brutalized at the many hits taken by the Marshall family in this story.  Ryan's parents, while very minor characters, broke my heart!  But Ryan and Izzy put their own loss aside and did some stellar work to catch the bad guys!  And I know from the stories my nephew shares that the gang violence written about is a very real and present danger in many cities, regardless of size.

I dare say that the courage and non-stop pursuit of justice for a fallen officer isn't overstated either.  There were many moments that I didn't know how Izzy was going to survive her many close calls, but, well....she didn't come through unscathed.  It is a wild ride from first to last pages, and readers will be anxious to see the next book in the series, Called to Protect, hits the shelves this Summer!

About the Author:
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always WatchingWithout WarningMoving Target, and Chasing Secrets in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of two ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Isaac believed in luck. But from Pete's point of view, Isaac's luck had all run out.

When Pete McLean loses his father in the summer of 1962, his friend Isaac is one of the few people he can lean on. Though their worlds are as different as black and white, friendship knows no color. So when Isaac suddenly goes missing, Pete is determined to find out what happened--no matter what it costs him. His quest will lead him into parts of town that he knows only through rumors and introduce him to a girl who will change his life. What they discover together will change the small Southern town of Glory, Alabama--forever.


With vivid descriptions, palpable atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into the rural South of the 1960s--a place where ordinary people struggle to find their footing in a social landscape that is shifting beneath their feet.

My Thoughts:

Both of them were finally free.”  (p. 337)

Freedom…it is something that the characters in Valerie Fraser Luesse’s debut novel, Missing Isaac, long for.  For most of them, this longing remains unidentified, but the reader’s heart will recognize and resound with this longing throughout the book.  By the time you savor these last words your heart will be running over…and making tracks down your cheeks! 

Books that bring tears to my eyes remain dear to my heart, and they become friends that I come back to visit over and over again. Luesse has created characters that resound with Alabama native substance!  She has NAILED the culture here, including the dark underbelly of small town politics and shady legal practices.  She doesn’t shy away from the heartbreaking reality of stereotyping  that takes place across racial and socioeconomic boundaries.  Sadly, these remain strongholds in the lives of many people inhabiting rural Southern towns.

But I digress…this novel!  Pete and Dovey…the loss they’ve endured but the victory they find in loving each other well just blows me away!  And Lila and John…what a beautiful picture of mercy and grace and how tenderly they merge and bring new life out of the broken places….sigh!!  And Aunt Babe, Hattie, and Mama Paul and the Pritchett clan…I recognize these people!  Oh and let’s not forget Celeste and Sheriff Harley…those two!!  I shudder to remember their presence!  Geneva has their number though!!! I’m telling you now, these characters come to vivid life in your heart and you will laugh and weep and rejoice with them throughout the novel!


Please, Ms. Luesse, share more of your stories!! I eagerly wait for them!! I pray there are many to follow this one!  BRAVO!!!  (oh, and WAR EAGLE!)

About the Author:
Valerie Fraser Luesse is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Her work has been anthologized in the audio collection Southern Voices and in A Glimpse of Heaven, an essay collection featuring works by C. S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, John Wesley, and others. As a freelance writer and editor, she was the lead writer for Southern Living 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana's Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. Luesse earned her bachelor's degree in English at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and her master's degree in English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She grew up in Harpersville, Alabama, a rural community in Shelby County, and now lives in Birmingham.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner - REVEIEWED


About the Book:
Pearl Spence has finally settled into a routine in Bliss, Michigan, far from her home in Red River, Oklahoma. Like all the other kids, she goes to school each day, plays in the woods, and does her chores. But there's one big difference: Mama is still gone, and doesn't seem to have a thought for the family she's left behind.

Escaping from her worries is another part of Pearl's new routine, whether that's running to Aunt Carrie's farm, listening to the radio with Ray, or losing herself in a book. In fact, a chair in the stacks, surrounded by books, might be her favorite place on earth--until she discovers swing dancing. The music transports Pearl to a whole other world.

When Mama unexpectedly returns, it isn't the happy occasion Pearl had imagined. Mama is distant and Pearl can't figure out how to please her. And the horrible way she treats Daddy is more than Pearl can bear. Seems life would be better if Mama would just stay away.


Finkbeiner's portrayal of both tragedy and everyday life in times of great change is charged with a raw beauty that will haunt readers. Fans of the two prior Pearl Spence novels won't be disappointed!

My Thoughts:
Somehow, she’d remember the way home.”  (p.163)

This thought passed through Pearl Spence’s mind long before her heart got on board with the reality of her longing.  Song of Home is the third book by Susie Finkbeiner and continues the revelation of life for the Spence family.  Told from the perspective of the now 11-year-old Pearl Spence, the reader is able to experience the innocent exposure of life’s often brutal realities through her eyes.  Finkbeiner writes with poignant prose, and readers will shed their share of tears as they take this journey through the Swing Era.

The author doesn’t spare her characters.  Rather, as a collective whole, they must deal with racism (Pearl’s dad is law enforcement in Bliss, Michigan), abandonment (both Pearl and her dear friend Ray must deal with absentee parents), and a host of other issues that surround the return of Pearl’s mother.  This is an emotional roller coaster, because the reader is able to experience every emotional gut punch in the character’s lives.  No book in this series has been without some very harsh realities, but this was an especially poignant book as it explores the longing for home in each of our lives, and the ache that ensues when there is no direct way back to what your heart perceives to be home.

It's hard to talk about this book without giving away spoiler moments, so I’ll just say that this book is a very clear reminder of what unconditional love can look like when we are trying to be obedient to Christ. I love the way that Pearl remembered her Meemaw’s wisdom throughout the story.  I am often thankful for the people God has placed in my life who faithfully spoke God’s truth into every situation.  I pray that I can be that voice to future generations!


This is a book of family, and community of commitment and integrity.  It is a novel that declares grace and mercy over the lives of every character and challenges readers to do the same.  I pray I am allowed a window into Pearl Spence’s life for years to come!  What a powerful series this is!!  Powerful!!

About the Author:
Susie Finkbeiner is a stay-at-home mom, speaker, and author from West Michigan. Her previous books include Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother's Chamomile (2014). She has served as fiction editor and regular contributor to the Burnside Writers Guild and Unbound magazine. Finkbeiner is an avid blogger (see www.susiefinkbeiner.com), is on the planning committee of the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and has presented or led groups of other writers at several conferences.